History of Spitbank Fort
When Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Bonaparte, seized power in 1848 and declared himself Emperor Napoleon III there was widespread fear in Britain of a resumption of hostilities with France and a possible invasion. In 1860, after much debate and deliberation, the government of Lord Palmerston proposed the construction of a ring of Forts in the Solent to protect Britain’s premier naval dockyard.
Spitbank Fort was completed in June 1878. The two outer Forts, Horse Sand Fort and No Man’s Fort, although started earlier, were completed in the spring of 1880. Horse Sands Fort and No Man’s Fort are identical, being 200 ft in diameter and fully armour plated, while Spitbank Fort was only 150 ft diameter and had iron plating on the seaward side only.
Each Fort represents an AmaZing feat of engineering. The stones, beautifully cut and weighing several tonnes apiece, had to be positioned on the seabed by divers who worked without the benefit of today’s technology. Each includes an artesian well to provide the garrison with fresh water – these are over 400ft deep!
The cost was extortionate: excluding armaments, Spitbank Fort cost £167,300 (£8.6m in today’s money), Horse Sand Fort cost £424,694 (£31m in today’s money) and No Man’s Land Fort £462,500 (£34m in today’s money). By the time they were completed the invasion threat had receded and the Forts were dubbed “Palmerston’s Follies”. They were heavily armed, none the less, with the guns being regularly upgraded as technology advanced.
By the start of the First World War Spitbank was equipped with roof mounted guns that could prevent light forces from penetrating the Spithead area and the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. Between the wars, all Forts in the Solent were left largely neglected until 1940 when the fall of France meant an invasion by German forces became a real threat. Spitbank Fort, along with Horse Sand and No Man's Fort, suffered considerable damage as a result of German bombing. They were not able to support heavy anti-aircraft guns for general air defence but were brought to war-readiness for the seizure of French warships anchored off Portsmouth in 1940, after the fall of France. This was the only time that their armament was trained on the targets for which they had been originally built. The seizure was completed with little opposition and actual firing from the guns on the Forts was not necessary.
The Forts were de-activated at the end of the war and decommissioned in 1956, but only sold by the Ministry of Defence in 1982. Since then Spitbank Fort has been privately owned and has gone through many guises before finally coming to rest in the creatively sympathetic hands of AmaZing Venues. We have lovingly transformed Spitbank Fort into a unique luxury venue like no other and will shortly complete the restoration of No Man’s Fort.
Spitbank Fort, based a mile into the Solent, is one of the most unusual filming locations in the world. Set in easy reach of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, Spitbank Fort is a fantastic location for product launches, fashion shoots, features and of course, documentaries.
The Fort is a quirky and unique gun emplacement, built to protect our fleet when Britannia ruled the waves, which has been transformed into a uniquely luxurious cocoon of indulgence, privacy and exclusivity. The imaginative restoration provides every possible comfort to offer a unique taste of life at sea.
With incredible panoramic views, an atmospheric fire pit, roof top pool, sauna and a stunning central courtyard, Spitbank is perfect for when your shoot needs an extra special touch. The Fort also offers the opportunity to film a myriad of water based activities such as RIB rides, sea kayaking and fishing. A key feature of the Fort is its incredible Lighthouse which provides a stunning setting for inspirational images and the opportunity to film beautiful sunsets over the Solent.
With 9 large bedroom suites, a taste of luxury whilst out at sea is available with stunning views of the coast and the sound of the waves gently crashing.
A variety of function areas are available, each offering something a little different from the norm. The Crow's Nest is a modern and contemporary room with stunning views and its own terrace. The Victory Bar features exposed brickwork and original hooks for hammocks providing a really dramatic setting for any photography requirement.
The Officer's Mess is a stunningly atmospheric restaurant with the original vaulted brickwork ceilings, with breath taking views towards Portsmouth Harbour and the Spinnaker Tower.
Whatever your filming requirement, Spitbank Fort offers all you could need for stunning sea / history / swashbuckling inspired shots! Let us know your brief and we will be sure to make your vision become a reality.
Learn more: http://www.amazingvenues.co.uk/SolentForts